January 12th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
11 years ago

Bush admits mistakes in his final news conference

Pres. Bush gave his last official press conference Monday morning.

Pres. Bush gave his last official press conference Monday morning.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Addressing reporters in his final news conference before leaving office, President Bush admitted Monday to several mistakes during his tenure in office.

"Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' (banner) on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," Bush said. "It sent the wrong message."

"Obviously," the president continued, "some of my rhetoric has been a mistake."

Bush also said that he should have pursed a comprehensive immigration overhaul after the 2004 election, instead of Social Security reform. Bush argued that Congress did not have the political willpower to tackle Social Security at the time because the program was not facing an "imminent" funding crisis.

Bush defended his widely-criticized decision not to visit Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Bush said that if he "landed Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge" shortly after the hurricane, "law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission." The media, Bush claimed, would have then asked how he could have
"possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge" when "police officers that
were needed to expedite traffic out of New Orleans were taken off the task to
look after you?"

Bush said he was "disappointed with the tone in Washington" and that he had "tried to do his part" to change the political environment for the better.

But "the rhetoric got out of control," Bush said.

Asked about the federal bailout, Bush said that President-elect Obama has not yet asked him to request the release of the remaining $350 billion in TARP funds.

Bush said he has no intention of doing so unless Obama asks him to do so.

Turning to the the situation in Gaza, the president said that a "sustainable cease-fire" could only be accomplished when "Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel."

Bush said that the "choice is Hamas's to make." He also stated that the best way to get a sustainable cease-fire is to "work with Egypt to stop the smuggling of arms into... Gaza.

"Countries that supply weapons to Hamas have got to stop," Bush said.

Turning to the question of his plans after leaving office, Bush said, "When I get out of here, I'm getting off the stage. I believe there ought to be one person in the klieg lights at a time."

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. JJI

    It is incredibly presumptuous for people to take the stance that they have the capacity to judge what was right and wrong for the President to do in office when it came to making Presidential decisions. Some decisions he made turned out bad that much is obvious. I would like to point out that as citizens we all make mistakes, we just don't have the political media acting as a microscope announcing every mistake we make. I agree with AEK, the lack of respect for our leaders as a nation has grown over the years. Calling him names in anger is not excusable, it is not right no matter how you look at it.

    January 12, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. reg

    no terrorism on usa soil for 8 years i would say that is an accomplishment. i doubt obama will be able to do the same

    January 12, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Jackie in Dallas

    President Bush admits he made mistakes? STOP the PRESSES!

    Duh, dude. You mean besides getting us into a war we cannot win just to help your buddies at Halliburton and the oil companies, instead of pursuing Afghanistan? Let's see...pursuing a joint action supported by the UN and NATO, versus the one not supported by any other country except England, and you chose the one that lost us respect all over the world. Oh, and let's not forget chosing to ignore all the signs of a looming economic disaster. Gee, those don't count as mistakes?

    AEK, I respect the office of the President of the United States as well as the offices of Vice President, Cabinet members, and the Congress. I could only wish that some of the jokers that have been elected or selected to fill those jobs respected the offices as much, as well as respecting the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the population of this country.

    January 12, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. H. Charles

    Exactly how many people have died because of Hamas rockets??

    January 12, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. David

    Where has this idiot been for the last 8 years. Reagan said that Government is not the solution, Government is not the problem. For the last 8 years Bush has been the problem.

    I must say that not many Presidents can leave office the way they came in. Gasoline is selling at what it sold for in 2000 the same for housing, automibilesand clothing. The problem is that my 401K, that I have been investing 10% of my salary is the same meaning everyting I invested for the last 8 years is gone, the Government now owes trillions more, there is no more World Trade Center and we are fighting two wars that will last longer than the Viet-nam war. There are close to 8000 dead americans between 9-11 and the two wars and don't forget about the thousands who will never be the same for the rest of their years.

    I just love these Republicans. Viva the rich and powerful and you know what the rest of us could do.

    January 12, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. joe

    Thank you president Bush!! Thank you! although he made mistakes he put the country and its safety first, and never let public opinion or the media interfere with the security of this nation!! as a marine i am proud of this country and i stand behind the president as we all should no matter what our opnion is, we dont know whats going on behind the scenes. Now we will have a new president and we should stand behind him too, but i think alot of people will find out that you should be careful what you wish for because u just might get it!!!! lets see how long it takes for the so called supporters of mr. obama to turn on him too when he makes decisions not everyone approves of or understands. god help us!!

    January 12, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. Mike, Syracuse NY

    tim January 12th, 2009 11:18 am ET
    The world hates America, Americans hate America…

    Feel free to leave any time you want. I'm sure Hamas can use someone like you in Gaza.

    January 12, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. JdG

    No remorse about cutting off stem cell research? No remorse about turning around environmental policies that favored big business? No remorse about the office of the vice president outing a CIA agent? No remorse over allowing torture? No remorse about abandoning Afghanistan? That's just part of the list he should be apologizing for...

    January 12, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. REG in AZ

    'Bush admits mistakes', trivial ones and without demonstrating any real conscience. Maybe someone should give him the real list, the long list with all of the problems caused ... but that still wouldn't make any difference as the sociopathic personality just doesn't have any conscience. Still he did arrogantly and belligerently completely focus on his private agenda for benefit of the wealthy, Special Interests and a select few, who both overtly and covertly supported him, made contributions and have promised him after office compensation, all while he irresponsibly gave the average American apathy, the costs and an abundance of subterfuge ... well maybe at least history will correctly identify him as the worst and most costly president this country has ever had!

    January 12, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Desperado

    Soon Nobama will take over and we will all be saved. You think its bad now. Wait to see what its like in the next 4 years

    January 12, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Aaron Valentino

    I didn't vote for the man.

    However, I'm endlessly entertained by folks who accuse the President of a perceived lack of intellectual curiosity, subtlety, nuance, and verbal dexterity with name-calling and profanity. For his critics who pride themselves on tolerance and openness to the "other," I think it's the apex of hypocrisy to demonize and hate because someone feels differently than you feel.

    January 12, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Jackie in Dallas

    Oh, and to the comment about him coming back to the prairie dogs...no prairie dogs in Dallas! He's moving in less than 10 miles from me, and you should see the mess the security measures are making of a nice neighborhood!

    January 12, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Lisa in FL: Looked up "narcisstic" and found a picture of Obama!!

    Obama is the most full of himself President to come along since Bill Clinton!!!!!

    Get real and get over your comic book hero......."messiah"........community organizer President!!!!

    Obama is full of himself and has "supporters" around the country that are too young to even know what politics involves and couldn't name his running mate when asked.

    Obama won on his celebrity and will lose on celebrity in four more years!!!!

    January 12, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. David

    Hey John....you're saying Bush chose to ignore Katrina and its aftermath, letting hundreds die and thousands become homeless, because "the Looney Left" wouldn't have congratulated him if he'd handled it correctly anyway....?

    That's a definition of paranoid-insanity if I ever heard one.

    January 12, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Moe, NY

    This man just made my day! His " final news conference". This is the best gift this President could have given to America, with the exception of just packing his bags and physically leaving office.

    January 12, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. ImpeachObama

    Bush is one of the best Presidents we've ever had.

    Obama will be a joke and shouldn't even be allowed to take the oath of office.

    You crybaby liberals will get what you have coming someday.

    January 12, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Rufus Johnson

    You tried to change the political tone? Huh, with Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and others in your administration? Seriously, do you really believe that? Are you just tipping the bottle a little much these days to understand what reality really is?

    January 12, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. Shawn - GA

    I think it is sad how so many people come on these blogs and comment as if they have any idea what they are talking about. We civilians have no idea what goes on fully, I am sure history will paint the truth. Be is a positive or negative one, however making such hateful comments while having little information just goes to show how ignorant people are. You believe 1 person made everything bad happen? Really? Talk about a scape goat.

    I am very concerned for PE Obama. He is human, he is just a man and he has to work within the same system. He can not possibly change as much as people are thinking he will, it is not possible. I pray that the warm fuzzy feelings do continue so he can get things done, I just see that people in that system are already turning on him and he has not even moved in yet.

    January 12, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Film Professor

    Great. On day 2912 of 2920, W realizes that he has made some mistakes. The wars, the economy, torturing prisoners, Katrina, global warming, trashing the constitution, politicizing the justice department, etc.

    It might be more informative if someone were to ask him exactly what, if anything, has he done right in the past 8 years.

    January 12, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. buc

    Four years from now we will all be wishing President Bush could return to office. Obama is a mistake....a huge mistake. God bless you and your family always, Mr. President.

    January 12, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  21. Jim Colbert

    I just thank God a republican was in office when we were attacked. And I pray that while Obama is building windmills and solar panels, we don't get attacked again. If nothing else Bush kept the country safe after the miserable Clinton years of soft on terrorism.

    Whether you liked the way we got it done or not, we have not been attacked on our soil for over 7 years. Don't think for a second that the terrorists will be coming back, while we are busy adding to the debt.

    January 12, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. SAD SAD

    Yes Pres Bush knew "mission accomplish" banner and the rest will make Americans mad at him. But you got to please daddy...What Daddy couldnt do in office i did it soits mission accomplish. The other mission is for the whole world to hate America and no American can stand outside the shores of this country heads up without fear of being kidnaped, killed or some other terribles things...It wasnt like that when you took office Mr Out-going President. America was more safer home and abroud untill you took office.

    January 12, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. Joe in CT - not Lieberman!!!

    President Bush spent the last 8 years making his decisions on the first person to report the problem to him. His best decisions were made when the ideologues were beat by the actual problem experts. His worst were when the neo-cons (too many to name here) got in first and pretty much told him what his actions were going to be. In essence, he was their rubber stamp. As opposed to his ranting against the "tax-and-spend" democrats, he was a "let's-borrow-and-spend-and-not-worry-about-the-cost" type. Look at the Iraq war (as opposed to our actions in Afghanistan) where we have been throwing money at a country that is currently banking more than twice what we are giving them. Look at the "bailout"! The attitude was "let's give banks some money and not worry about what they do with it" instead of targeting the funds at institutions that have demonstrated need to maintain viability.
    I'm just waiting for the 19th when W issues blanket pardons to the following: Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowicz, Rove, and anyone else who can sink him in a court-of-law!

    January 12, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. MK

    If he had landed air force one in NO after Katrina it would have caused more grid lock, he is right (gulp). How about this tho, drop some food and water to starving helpless people? Get the national gaurd in there quicker, it was CLEAR that their (our) society was breaking down and they needed help, not just his lame excuses.

    January 12, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. Objective thinking

    See, people like "Jeff" (January 12th, 2009 11:20 am ET) saying "GET OUT." when we already know that Bush is leaving on January 20th is what's wrong with this country. There is nothing to be gained by whining right now, and Obama is only 8 days away. What is the point of Bush-bashing right now of all times? Don't you get sick of repeating the same criticisms over and over when we've already done what we can do to get rid of him and his policies? Obama has already been voted in, and saying "GET OUT." right now won't do a single thing except annoy every single intelligent person reading through here. People like Jeff must be the same people who scream at their television sets when their favorite sports team does something wrong. They think it will help or something.

    January 12, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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